This project will examine the distributional effects of SSA programs and other means-tested and social insurance programs for older people and people with disabilities, using Consumer Expenditure (CE) Interview Survey data linked to income tax and transfer program data.
Past research has assessed the distributional effects of these programs using income data, and often poorly measured income data. About half of recipients of private pensions and a substantial share of DI and SSI recipients do not report benefit receipt in our major household surveys. This project will examine the consumption distribution of recipient households, an arguably more interesting measure of living standards than even well-measured income for retirees and people with disabilities. These populations often rely on past saving rather than current income and may maintain a high standard of living if they already own key durables like a home and a car. Using administrative data on program receipt, we will also be able to better characterize who receives benefits from SSA programs as well as other programs such as SNAP, Veterans’ Benefits and Workers’ Compensation that tend to be even less well reported in surveys.
• We will examine how SSA programs and other social insurance and means-tested programs alter the consumption distribution and standard of living of recipients as measured by their consumption.
• We will develop and make available a dataset that will be a significant improvement over past datasets used to model and evaluate policy changes for older people and people with disabilities.